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Child and Youth Care Services Around the World

Seminar at Zurich University of Applied Sciences, School of Social Work in collaboration with The International Federation of Educative Communities (FICE) Switzerland.

Our Guest Expert was Merle Allsopp from South Africa. She’s the Director of the National Association of Child and Youth Care Workers in Cape Town and President of FICE South Africa and FICE Africa.

To present and discuss their impressions, experiences, ideas and questions, 4 students organised an international workshop. Further colleagues from ZHAW and from partner organisations were invited.

After having given insights into history and recent social questions in South Africa, Merle Allsopp presented the independent non-profit organization «NACCW» – the National Association of Child Care Workers. «NACCW» provides the professional training and infrastructure to promote healthy child and youth development and improve standards of care and treatment for orphaned children. Merle then described her main grassroots project: ISIBINDI model in which engaged members from the community are trained to provide services inside the homes of the children themselves who, in many cases, have been orphaned by Aids or have seriously ill family members.

In addition to the discussions with Merle Allsopp and the ZHAW lecturers, the students also interviewed further experts on Child and Youth Care Services via online conferences:

  • Rawan Ibrahim – Jordan, German Jordaninan University, Amman & UNICEF Jordan

  • Julia Kuokkanen – Finland, Central Union for Child Welfare and FICE Finland.

  • Martha Holden – USA, The Care Project, Cornell University, New York, and FICE USA.

  • Patrick Reason – Brazil, Movimento Nacional Pró Conviência Familiar and FICE Brasil.

In doing so, they enquired about their welfare state structures, individual fields of action (focus on the implementation of ideas and models) and future challenges. With the aim of promoting the students’ professionalisation in the best interest of the child, the goal was to learn about and compare current international trends and different perspectives in out of home child and youth care with a focus on context conditions, innovative approaches and their implementation in their location of origin as well as in different contexts. After having critically reflected on new topics, models and concepts, students described learnings from the examples discussed that are relevant for the quality of out-of-family child and youth care and other social services in their own country.

Throughout, the students took the opportunity to interact with experts in the field at eye level, exploring their knowledge and experience and contributing their own expert knowledge from their studies and work practice:

«Seminars “Child and youth care around the world” was very interesting look at the profession and its challenges around the world. After the seminar, my idea of social work has very strong common competence and way of thinking all around the world and in different countries and cultural contexts too.» (Jouko)

«The seminar was a great experience and I appreciated all contributions. Those three days were broadening my international knowledge in this field and gave me an idea about the topic in an international aspect. (…) I am mostly grateful of getting an insight about international Child and Youth Services as well as to hear from FICE. I believe FICE is a great network platform and an amazing knowledge carrier. After this seminar, it is once clearer for me that my passion lies in International Child and Youth Services and I hope that someday I am able to work in this field.» (Tamara)

After these stimulating experiences for all participants, we are of course planning to hold the seminar again in a similar form in 2020 at ZHAW, School of Social Work. It would be nice if some interested students would register again to get a taste of international discourse!

The interesting and inspiring seminar was offered by Anna Schmid, Clara Bombach and Samuel Keller, in collaboration with the International Federation of Educative Communities FICE in Switzerland and its international members.

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